A Tennessee school district bans the American flag from being displayed on student vehicles. Planned Parenthood secretly profits from the harvesting of unborn fetal tissue. A judge orders a Christian bakery to pay a penalty for their decision not to bake an LGBT cake. The issues surrounding us in our world today are unbelievable almost, overwhelming. What should we do? Or in the words of the late Francis Schaeffer, “How Should We Then Live?*”
A close friend of mine called me a few weeks ago, horrified at the breaking news of Planned Parenthood’s atrocities. Prior to having a family, I was director of a pro-life ministry in Boston, and she knew that this issue in particular was close to my heart. She wondered what I thought, and how I was responding to the news.
Her questions are not unlike the questions many Christians are asking themselves as they are assaulted by new (and horrific) events on a daily basis. How should we respond? Are Christians too passive, as some voices have accused? Are we not to be the salt and light of the world? What kind of an impact can I have over a situation where beheadings of my brothers and sisters are taking place at gunpoint? Can I make a difference?
I am a writer, so it would seem natural that I should write about such issues, encouraging readers to go join rallies and protests, to write to their senators, or perhaps to boycott gay bakeries. Yet that is not what I am called to do.
Before you label me an unconcerned Christian or say I’m just “playing the God card,” let me explain where I stand and what I stand for. Because I stand for something more than just one issue. I stand for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Real Purpose
One of the first things the Lord told me when I started this ministry was not to allow the demands and pressures of society to dictate what I write. In other words, I can write in reaction to the fluctuating issues at hand, which has limited value, or I can write of the unchangeable nature of God and His love for us, which equips believers to handle every situation we will ever face.
Since my friend’s phone call, I have had several conversations with people I respect, and in every conversation, we have returned to this same truth: that the very best thing you can do as a believer in response to world events is to know God and hear His voice. This is what His Inscriptions is all about. Why? Because if you are led by the Spirit of God you will know how you should respond. Those who do not know God expend a great deal of time and energy fighting for causes which most likely will just deplete them in the end.
What's Really Happening
What’s really happening is actually an age-old drama. Behind every crisis there is a greater spiritual force which is at work to wear out the saints: the power of Satan.
God is in control of the world’s events, and nothing will happen without His foreknowledge. However, Satan is the master deceiver who wants us to feel guilty when we haven’t “done something” about the latest crisis – even when the crisis is beyond our sphere of influence.
There is a two-fold reason why the Bible tells us to “pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective and can help stem the tide of the evil that overshadows us. Our prayers are more powerful than our protests.
Still, there is a deeper reason for unceasing prayer: so that we know exactly what He is calling us to do about each situation. Only as we know God and hear His voice will we position ourselves correctly in His strategic end-time plan.
The best thing I can do for you, in response to any pressing issue, is to urge you to build a stronger relationship with Jesus.
Does this mean you should hide in your prayer closet and pray until Jesus comes back, trusting Him to protect you? Emphatically, no. It means that you invest your heart and soul into knowing Him and making Him known. In this way, He can keep you safely in His protection AND He can also call you get involved - to step out to love, warn or rescue others as needed.
Christianity isn’t passive. We don’t hide from the decaying world in fearful self-protection. Neither do we react in self-righteousness, with angry judgments and protests. Rather, Christianity asks us to yield to God’s way of doing and being right. We must know Him well and work with Him in order to make the strongest impact.
A Happy Ending
This week, the same Christian bakers who had been fined $135k in damages to the LGBT community, sent new cakes, letters, and gift cards to several LGBT organizations in an effort to reconcile. The inscription on the cakes read: “We really do love you.”
I don’t need to say that the bakery didn’t have to do this. They didn’t have to give another penny in what looked like an already unfair fight.
But they are believers who know God and whose hearts prompted them to go the extra mile, to love those who seem to be their enemies, to find a way to connect when bridges had been burned. They heard the heartbeat of love God has for this community and they responded to His voice, not just to the issue at hand.
The impact has been amazing. Far from tossing the cakes into the trash, the LGBT organizations have been pleasantly surprised – even stumped – about this kind of gesture. There was some heavenly “salt” in these cakes! Unsure whether to eat the cake, one LGBT organization posted a message to their followers on Twitter, saying, “What should we do?”
What a question! “What should we do?” In the light of an outpouring of God’s love, what should we do?
Our heartfelt pursuit of God will reverse the very questions we have been asking ourselves in difficult times. Our love will cause our enemies to ask, “What should we do?” (For a biblical example of this, see Acts 16:25-34).
There’s just one thing we need to do, and that is to know God and to make Him known. As we listen to His voice, He will lead us to impact our society within our sphere of influence. When He calls you to respond, what will you do?
Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? Crossway Books, Wheaton Illinois, 2005
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.